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Six Famous Treasures Found with Only Metal Detectors

Some of the world’s most famous treasures were actually discovered by ordinary people, many of them using the most basic and low tech metal detectors available.

Who loves treasure? Most of us do – and what’s better than finding hidden or lost treasure with low tech tools and cheap metal detectors?

I spent a few hours combing through lots of stories and found some great ones that I wanted to share. If you enjoy treasures or the hunt for them then read on and enjoy!

“Middleham Jewel”

This little treasure was discovered in Middleham Castle in North Yorkshire by Ted Seaton in September 1985. The story is unclear but it is said that Ted usually was out at the castle with his metal detector a lot until finally in September of that year he found and unearthed the gem. The jewel is an exquisitely engraved 15th century lozenge shaped gothic reliquary pendant, set with a large sapphire. Seaton’s metal detector had picked up trace metal elements in the setting of the pendant. Shortly after being discovered, the jewel was sold at auction at Sotheby’s in 1986 for the sum of 1.3 million pounds. It was also rumoured that a high ranking member of the Royal Family bought it.

A few years later, the jewel was once again up for sale and again it was sold – only this time it fetched 2.5 million pounds! Almost double then what it was originally sold for. The jewel would come up for auction again once more, but this time the Yorkshire Museum bought it and it can been seen there on public display to this day.

“Hoxne Hoard”

This treasure was a much larger find which was discovered by Eric Lawes on November 16, 1992 with his metal detector in the village of Hoxne in Suffolk. The hoard contained a cache of approximately 15,000 late 4th and early 5th century Roman silver and gold coins. They also discovered over 200 items of silver tableware and jewelery. After its discovery, it was declared a “Treasure Trove” (meaning you only get a really small percent of the value of the treasure) and it was purchased by the British Museum for an undisclosed amount. Several items from the hoard such as the famous Silver Tigress are on permanent display there. Eric Lawes and the landowner on who’s land it was found received 1.75 million pounds, and they divided it evenly.

“17th Century Gold Coin”

Although this story doesn’t involve mass quantities of gold and riches – never the less it still involves treasure and one ordinary person. On a sunny day in May 2004 in Overton, London, a novice treasure hunter named Richard Jones was out in a farmer’s field with his metal detector. After a few hours of searching and coming up empty handed, he finally got a good signal on his detector. Thinking it was an old bottle cap or something, Jones was surprised to see he had found some kind of coin he had never seen before.

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User Comments
  1. Nelson Doyle

    On April 6, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Bravo! Chris. Bravo! This was a very entertaining and educating article. I love metal detecting around old farms throughout the Southern areas of the United States. It would be great fun to have the chance to visit Europe and explore the historical countryside.

    In Europe, the potential treasure could honestly be thousands of years old. In my opinion, metal detecting isn’t so much a treasure hunt, but more of a history adventure. Time-capsules buried, hidden until its time for history to repeat itself.

    Have A Blessed Day,

    Nelson Doyle

  2. Chris Hamilton

    On April 7, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks for the positive comment Mr. Doyle and I’m glad you enjoyed it as much as you did. Again thanks for your interest and comment!

  3. nobert soloria bermosa

    On April 7, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Very nice article… i really did enjoy reading it,,interesting and educational as Nelson said…here in the Philippines there are still lots of treasure hunters around searching for the treasures buried by the Japanese during their retreat during the second World War and one of their basic tool of course is the metal detector…

  4. duh swami

    On April 7, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    I bought my first detector in 1962. A D-Tex. I have never found any ‘big’ treasures but lots of little ones, including gold and diamond rings. I do a lot of water hunting with my whites PI waterproof.
    I also own a whites gold master and found a few nuggets in California’s gold country. Metal detecting consists of two things, know your machine and use it. Persistence pays off…Thanks…

  5. Jim Terror

    On April 7, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    People who wander around with their detectors are losers. I HATE EVERY SINGLE ON OF THEM.

  6. David

    On April 7, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Why does that picture show about $15 in ones next to a million dollar gold nugget?
    It’s just stupid.

  7. heartlander

    On April 7, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    It kind of funny isn’t it.. that were looking at the 4th largest nugget in the world and the guy is like, “look what I made”! holding a fist full of $1 dollar bills! He’s got like what, $40 there?

  8. Chris Hamilton

    On April 7, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    Ya I agree with you guys and have no idea why that guy is holding about 40 bucks in $1 dollar bills beside a million dollar nugget!lol The picture was added by the site. Thanks again for all positive comments.

  9. Nelson Doyle

    On April 8, 2008 at 2:01 am

    I was just thinking that it would make perfect sense to have a guy holding mere dollar bills next to the 4th largest gold nugget, because there are always people like you to spot it, and then remember it. Its all about smart marketing. Its probably the only thing that you will really remember after reading this article.

    Nelson Doyle

  10. Chris Hamilton

    On April 8, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Great point Mr.Doyle. It is probably the only thing I would remember after reading the article if it wasn’t mine. Thanks for the insight.

  11. Obbop

    On April 8, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    I found my wife with a metal detector.

    Forgot to remove the fillings in her teeth.

  12. Mike M

    On April 9, 2008 at 4:08 am


    Great article. I think it’s something a lot of people have wondered about: do people have any success with these metal detectors.

  13. Rana Sinha

    On April 9, 2008 at 4:55 am

    Great article Chris.

    I am considering getting a metal detector!

    I thought the dollar bills in the guy’s hand was just to compare the size of the nugget, not to convey the value of the gold nugget.

  14. Chris Hamilton

    On April 9, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Obbop, Mike M and Rana thanks for comments. Rana you made a good point about the money. Maybe it is there to show how big the gold was, good eye. Mike M glad you liked the article and yes lots of people have found things with these. Although they aren’t high tech tools they still do work. I remember being younger when I bought on from Radio Shack. Didn’t find much but I did find a penny from 1901 so ya they work. Got to have instinct and patients I figure to do this for a hobby. Obbop, WTF buddy is that a joke? Either way it made me smile. Anyways thanks for all the positive comments everyone they are much appreciated. -Cheers From Canada To All-

  15. Stephen Thomson

    On April 12, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Excellent article!

  16. tracy sardelli

    On April 26, 2008 at 6:40 am

    great article, very interesting read.

  17. eydie

    On October 7, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    it’s so awesome to read these stories. my dad had a metal detector years ago and never really found anything. i am going to buy a metal detector because the thought of buried treasure just brings out the pirate in me.

  18. Meg

    On November 17, 2008 at 7:22 am

    World Metal Detector Community

    We have Recently started a new website similar to myspace called World Metal Detector Community exclusively for metal detectorists, and are delighted to count among our members some very well known names in the world of metal detecting. We have members from USA, Australia, Italy, Russia, The Netherlands, and UK, and we welcome both the experienced and the novice.

    Create a profile add pictures, write blogs, advertise detectors and accessories for sale, live chat room, finds identified
    and much much more. It is completely free to join and can be found at

  19. Milton H Peebles III

    On December 9, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Love treasure tales

  20. michael mason

    On April 22, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    I am twelve yrs old and I love metal detecting there is a story of a cannon filkled with golde on my grandpa’s land.I have been looking for it for years, but I did not find it. I will not give up.On the bright side I found a sword and a part of a old gun. I will keep them forever.

  21. Mike

    On February 28, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Great collection of articles!

    TWhat I love about this hobby is you never know what you’re going to find. Another great aspect is that you learn so much local history while researching new sites.

  22. rick

    On July 29, 2012 at 5:06 am

    In the early 1980s in councle bluffs iowa my friend found 5 large mason jars full of 1800s silver coins ,so i went digging around the aera and found a big buried sealed suitcase full of many imp doc,deeds ,titles ,bonds,embossed bank papers,many many letters ect with worldwide airmail postage from the 1840s-on .many seemed uncanceled,i was a dumb kid it all must have been worth a fortune.

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